Amit Singh, a director,actor and a stand up comic, has worked with evam on numerous occasions and we are excited to have him on board as the Director of our upcoming play ‘Once Upon a Bak Bak tree – Monkey See! Monkey Do!’ .
When Sunil Vishnu K called me and told me about this production the first thought that came to me was “This production is going to be crazy fun but just as challenging.” Children are immensely intelligent and grasp everything offered to them. We learned counting, reading, writing and at least two languages when we were kids. We never forgot any of them. As for calculus that was taught to us in high school? Apart from knowing the spelling of integration, I’m sure we can safely say that it’s all out of the window. Children need not be spoken down to. They listen, learn and apply. I have consciously avoided dumbing down any part of this production. I think they will like that. Having done multiple kids shows before, I was sure that I didn’t want to make it childish. I knew I wanted to treat my audience, mostly kids, with respect and intelligence because kids like being treated as adults. So that’s the approach I started off with, not with the idea that everything will have to be spoon fed to the kids.
The whole scripting process was quite something. We started off with just two 10 page story which was roughly about 10 minute of stage play that had to be converted into a 60 minutes long play. I believe that the process of any production outweighs the result. In order for the audience to buy into a play, be it comic, tragic or dramatic, the actors need to feel a sense of ownership in the production. If the actors do not have fun on stage, neither will the audience. For that reason, my rehearsal space has always been democratic where every decision is taken with the consent of all involved. I dislike reining in my team when I am at the helm of a production. The natural progression has to occur. The actors read the story, developed their characters, came up with their own lines and suggestions for others and ‘monkeyed’ around for a good 3 months of their lives. Improvisation was our biggest tool, with the script being altered almost ever other day. In fact everything was so organic, none of us actually ever used a conventional “script” per se.
I’ve tried my best to utilise my actors’ strengths hence making it funny, quirky and high on fun & energy with some great dancing, yet at the same time maintaining the original essence of Karadi Tales. Even the music has been slightly altered, retaining the original tunes but simultaneously giving it a touch of “us” which makes the whole presentation unique. Creating this production has been delightful, primarily in that respect. The actors gelled well and the play organically took shape. The actors came up with lines for themselves or for others making the process enjoyable and earmarking their stake in it all. From the two short stories we were given, we now have a full-fledged theatrical piece with singing and dancing. We had great fun working on this as a team.
I believe this approach of making it organic and taking inputs from everyone including but not restricting to actors, musician or the backstage crew, translated the production into a more authentic, fun and entertaining work of art. It’s important to enjoy what you’re working on because only then will the audience connect with you. The more fun you have on stage, that much fun the audience will have. There was a lot that was learnt and taught and in all, this was very satisfying process.
In a nutshell, directing this production has been a fabulous experience for me. I look forward to working with the cast and crew again. Also, a big shout out to Karadi and evam for roping me in.
This production is going to be a lot of high energy fun with dancing and singing and crazy comedy. We’re very excited to premier this show on January 22nd in Bangalore and 4th and 5th of February in Chennai.
Monkey see Monkey do!